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More IA flights to Gulf

By T.S. Shankar

CHENNAI, JUNE 16. As Chennai gains importance as the gateway of South India and foreign carriers vie with one another to introduce more international flights, Indian Airlines (IA) continues to hold on to the lion's share at the market. The national domestic carrier now operates from eight stations in southern region out of a total of 15.

IA plans to operate about 25 additional flights in June and 15 more services in July to meet the demand of passengers from south Indian destinations to the Gulf.

"Today, IA is one of the largest airlines operating the maximum number of flights between India and the Gulf, besides being the preferred airline of the ethnic traffic," a source said.

IA operates more than 98 flights from the southern region and an equal number of incoming services a week.

Nearly 30 per cent of the revenue from these operations is accounted for in all-India, international operations.

In the southern region, Chennai's international operations stand first, followed by Bangalore, Hyderabad, Tiruchi, Coimbatore, Kochi, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram.

The source said IA played a pioneering role in developing air connectivity to the Gulf from interior parts, with the introduction of a direct service between Kozhikode and Sharjah in 1992 and flights to Ras-al-Khaimah and Oman in 1993, to Kuwait in 1994, Doha and Bahrain in 1996 and Dubai in 2001.

With Dubai and Sharjah having a large number of Indian expatriates, apart from witnessing a steady flow of the jet-setting business community and tourists, out of 17 international destinations, IA caters for eight sectors in the Gulf.

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